Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, blamed President Clinton Wednesday for dramatic increases in drug abuse among youth since he took office.
"Young people are being raised in an environment lacking in definition of moral leadership," Hatch said as he chaired a hearing about drug abuse before the Senate Judiciary Committee.He said Clinton - who once smoked marijuana, is mired in sex scandals and had officials in his administration who backed legalization of some drugs - isn't doing enough to fight abuse.
Hatch said Presidents Ronald Reagan and George Bush made what they called "the war on drugs" a top national priority, and drug use declined every year in the 1980s through 1992 - when Clinton was elected.
Since then, drug use has been on the rise.
"Marijuana use (among eighth graders nationally) shot from 10 percent in 1991 to 23 percent in 1997," Hatch said, quoting government drug survey results.
"The annual use of any illicit drug among high school students has dramatically increased since 1991 - from 11 percent to 24 percent in 1996 for eighth-graders, from 21 percent to 38 percent for 10th-graders, and from 29 percent to 40 percent for 12th-graders," Hatch said.
He blamed increases, in part, on "a decline in anti-drug messages from elected leaders - like Clinton - and similar messages in homes, schools and the media."
Hatch also complained that the administration, until recently, had continually reduced funding drug interdiction to stop the flow of drugs. "As the interdiction dollars go down, drug use goes up."
Hatch also said he does not believe that Clinton fully supports his own drug czar - Barry McCaffrey - and his office, "and the results are undisputable."
Hatch called for Clinton to put drug abuse back atop the national agenda.